Monday, October 19, 2015

Geeky TV commentary - Gotham 2.5, Minority Report 1.5, Blindspot 1.5

The theme of this week's episodes is "FEELS".

Gotham airs at 8pm on Fox Monday nights!

Mama Cobblepot is apparently not dead, but she's still missing, and Penguin can't afford to turn down any of the bottom-run jobs Gallavan brings him because he can't risk his mom. But it's wearing on him and driving him more off the edge than he already was. He's always been unstable, quick to kill, but he has a code, and he's his own man now. Or he was. Now Gallavan wants him to burn up this list of buildings, like some sort of thug. Penguin hands off the job to Butch, who takes it to Cat, because she's friends with a girl who has firebug brothers.

Cat is not pleased with how those brothers treat her, but the girl just wants to be treated well at all, and when the third brother, the one in charge of setting the fires, gets asploded in a raid on their literal black market (which is like a big box store and is hilarious), she takes his place. Cat wants her to ditch them, but she doesn't until they ditch her when the cops stop them from burning up the book depository--as they should, because Books.

Turns out all the places they were told to burn were Wayne Industries holdings. And that Gallivan is actually the last heir to some Old Gotham family that was disgraced by a failed relationship with a Wayne girl, and ran away to found a secret society for the purpose of destroying the Waynes, as far as it seems. The flashback was the worst thing this show has ever done, which is saying something. One, it's incredibly lame, like a really bad romance or gothic gone wrong. Two, the hair and clothes are wildly distracting. And Three, it turns Gallivan from a creepy and suave self-made psycho to a hereditary blood-feuder who never thought to not go and kill a twelve year old even though he's more than twice his age. So dumb.

But on the other hand, we had a Nygma-Kringle / Jim-Lee double date that should have been a disaster and actually went off without a hitch and was very sweet.

And more and more, Butch just has to put up with everyone else's crazy. He's just trying to do his job, and he's as loyal as a puppy, and when Penguin sends him to infiltrate Gallivan's circle and does it by cutting his hand off, he's just got to take it. It's not right.

This show is always sort of walking thin lines of taste and too much, and it sort of wobbled around on that line today, but mostly it feels like set up; the ad for next week looks like more actually happens, and more of consequence, so this week is the one that puts everyone into new places so they can all be knocked down next week. There was no Bruce or Alfred at all this week, which is a point against it, but there was Cat being Cat on her own, which is always good. I almost couldn't care less about Gallivan and his gross family, but the fact that Barbara is probably one of the other last heirs of Old Gotham and he's probably keeping her around because of that could make that storyline less blah.

This show is pretty cleanly divided between the great stuff--Penguin, Nygma, the kids, Alfred--and the stuff that bores me--the precinct, blood feuds, politics. Last season, by the end, there was too much on the side of boring or frustrating; so far this season has stayed mostly on the side of fun. Can they stay there?

Minority Report airs at 9pm on Fox Monday nights.

This week, Vega comes up in the vision, and it ties back to her dad's murder 17 years ago, before precrime--but not before they were in the milkbath having visions. It looks like she's the one who's going to be the victim, which Dash does not like at all.

Vega is sort of on edge and emotionally compromised by it being her birthday, which she shares with her dad, so that every year reminds her of his unsolved death. Dash is adorable about her birthday, bringing her flowers and being so very sweet, but when he has the vision, he gets super concerned about her. He even punches Arthur in the face over it, something he didn't do over any of the other cases or any of the things that mattered to him personally.

He's so in love with her, guys.

Anyway, Wally has a machine that can dig up the old memories that Dash can't access on his own, but since the memories were created in tandem with Arthur, they need both of them for the machine to work. Arthur doesn't want to, but Vega convinces him because as Dash's twin, he has the same weakness for her (or something).

They get the memory and realize that it's not the old gang leader Vega sent to jail who has a history of threatening her life--it's the lady who is working to rehab the criminals. Back in the day, she was a really bad junkie, and she was hired to make it look like a mugging.

So she knows now who killed her dad, but she can't bring herself to kill her or arrest her because she's served her time for her past and she's got a kid now. And there was a tense stand off with that kid, so they had to talk him out of making a choice you can't ever make up for like his mom did. But the little detail of how she was hired--that means there was a reason he was killed, and now, in true Catherine Beckett fashion, she wants to find out why.

It was great seeing Dash stand up to his brother, and side once and for all with his partner. It was also great seeing exactly how concerned he is for her, and still offer her any help she needs, and make sure she's safe without stopping her from doing what she needs to do. Because he understands that need to fix crimes--that's why he's there. Arthur still thinks Vega is going to turn on them, but he doesn't seem totally on Agatha's side about  her after their talk and their adventure this episode, and he can see how much Dash cares about her. Whether that last detail sways him toward her side or away is probably up to the rest of the season to figure out.

And it was great seeing Vega not in control, with her being the one making rash decisions and taking crazy risks. We got more with her mom, which is all sorts of neat because she's not there nearly enough, and this is a big chunk of backstory and motivation from her in only five episodes; time was, this would be an end-of-the-season episode, or a future-seasons episode, and the reveal of who did it would have gone on much longer. Stories move so much faster these days!

Blindspot airs at 10pm on NBC Monday nights.

And speaking of full-tilt storytelling and big character things happening much sooner than expected, we have Blindspot!

This week's case is about some terrorist group that's smuggling radioactive cesium to build a dirty bomb, and manages to stage a bank robbery to save their best bomb-builder from a secret CIA torture chamber. It was pretty clever, and with Weller serving as the agent trying to get through to them and Jane figuring out that something was wrong with the way people were moving around, it was pretty tense.

And that was, like, ten minutes.

The baddie gets away and they have to figure out where the radioactives are before they can build the bomb. Which they do. But, as usual, it's the stuff around the case that matters most, and that's how this viewer likes it.

Their boss finds out that Jane's tooth-test doesn't match Taylor Shaw's and wants to know what Weller is going to do about it, but he's adamant that he knows who she is. He takes her home to meet his sister, which is definitely too early, and his sister tells embarrassing baby Weller stories--and his nephew asks questions that are too pointed and sets off Jane's panic attacks. She flees. But she's fine the next day because the field is the only place she feels at home, which he says he understands.

But she's not alright. Later, she tells him that it wasn't the questions or the stories, it was him--how he expects her to be someone she doesn't know anything about, how he looks at her like he knows her when she doesn't know herself, and how she can't handle that. But when she starts remembering things and she freaks out--something she has plenty of reason to do much more than she does--it's him who can calm her down and center her. By putting her hand on his chest so she can feel his heartbeat, and holding her gaze, and promising that he'll always be there.

Later again, when he's checking her new safehouse before he will leave her alone in it, he apologizes for putting that pressure on her, and for losing her to begin with, and gets more emotional than we've seen from him this whole time. And this time, she puts his hand over her heart, and she says that he's her starting place--he'd told her that Taylor Shaw was a place to start to figure out who she is, but she says that he's the start. There is a definite moment as they're sharing that pile of feels and guilt and hope and fear. But he pulls away, scared again, and she doesn't stop him. When he gets home, he finds that his sister has brought his dad back, and he just walks out. Probably not back to Jane's to talk about it, though.

She remembered being taken this week, and didn't see the face of the man who did it, but saw his hands, and saw the scarred, starved, dirty kids who were trapped on little mattresses on the floor in the place where he took her. Child slavery? Child soldiers? A training program? Something else entirely?

Meanwhile, Reede still doesn't want Jane around, and he's started questioning her in public where others can hear, which Zapata doesn't like because they need to seem to be a unified front in public to do their jobs. 

And the head of the CIA offers to trade the terrorist bomber for Jane, effectively saying that she's more important to a possible key to a whole network of terrorists, but not saying why. Mayfair takes her side, against her old "buddy", and probably starts a war by doing it. But Zapata has those debts she needs to pay back, and she goes to him after the fact to sell what she knows about Jane.

This is so much story. It's not too much, but there's questions piling up and the mysteries and crazy loyalty-patterns are all over the place, and it's got the amount of plot points that would have filled a whole season a few years ago. It's amazing, really, that they've come so far in only five episodes, and I hope they can keep it up, since they were recently confirmed for the tail end of the season, giving them a full order of episodes. The characters are so good, complex and with complex interactions, and with divided loyalties. The team is falling apart in stages, and that raises the question of whether they can manage to not fall apart entirely when they'll undoubtedly need to be united, as Zapata said, before the end of the season.

And they really know how to pull the heartstrings.

Other Monday shows:

Minority Report
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